At St. Columba we have a two-part congregation. One part is represented in our busy church life. The other part reposes in our Memorial Garden, a congregation of those who have gone before us to a different calling.
In 1996 our Clerk of Session and his wife proposed the idea of a garden within the church grounds where we could inter the earthly remains of beloved people. Our congregation is one of immigrants and sojourners, with children scattered worldwide. We seek a familiar gathering place with symbols of fellowship and love. The garden was dedicated on June 29th 1997.
In our church the Celtic cross is prominent. The circle with the cross symbolizes eternal life, the belief in life after death through Jesus' death and resurrection. It is an ancient sign and recalls the days of St. Columba of Ireland and Scotland where it is found carved in stone. The surface of the cross is often carved with intricate strands and knots representing our intertwined pathways and lives. To us at St. Columba this cross is not just a symbol but an icon, the reflection of the face of God, a truly holy image. So our garden was laid out in the form of a Celtic cross and is planted each spring with an embroidery of flowers, forming holy ground in which to honour and rest our departed family members.
The presence of the garden touches us all. Many people were involved in preparing this special place. There were the people who envisioned it, those who gave money for the extensive concrete work and those who built it.
The garden borders our church grounds and the benches that flank it are an extension of the pews, a place to reflect and to pray. The garden is cared for by people of our congregation. Those who are continually trimming grass, planting flowers and maintaining the donated benches, the woman who makes the nets needed to lower the urns, made by a local potter, into the holes dug and refilled by the men who then reset the plants to restore the beauty of the memorial garden, our image of refuge and repose.
A wooden representation of the cross, situated outside the north entrance to the church building, provides a directory of the plots used.